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The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. Here's what might happen in Week 13.
Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.
Baylor will do something it hasn’t done since 1939
Oklahoma State is surging, winners of six straight including crushing Texas in Austin last Saturday. The Cowboys also have not lost to Baylor in Stillwater since 1939. That all ends this weekend as the Bears put their Big 12 and BCS title hopes on the line against Mike Gundy and the Pokes. Bryce Petty’s Heisman hopes hang in the balance as well. This is easily the toughest test to date for Art Briles' bunch, but this Bears team is up to the task. Baylor defeated OSU last year 41-34, as the two teams combined for nearly 1,200 yards of offense. Look for a repeat performance from the Bears and a win in Stillwater for the first time in over 70 years.
Urban Meyer will have a 1,000-yard rusher
Meyer has won two BCS National Championships, four conference titles, is about to post his second undefeated regular season and coached 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. But he’s never had a 1,000-yard rusher on any of his teams. Carlos Hyde will change all of that this weekend against Indiana. The Hoosiers just allowed 554 yards rushing to Wisconsin and Hyde is coming off a 246-yard performance against Illinois. Meyer’s workhorse back is just 53 yards away from getting to 1,000 (947) and averages 135.3 yards per game. This one could happen in the first quarter.
Johnny Manziel and Zach Mettenberger will throw as many INTs as TDs
These two quarterbacks combined for zero touchdowns and four interceptions in LSU’s 24-19 win in College Station last year. It was Johnny Manziel’s worst game as a college player. Mettenberger, despite some recent struggles, has shown marked improvement from a year ago. And both Texas A&M and LSU have had defensive issues this fall. These are the Nos. 1 and 2 rated passers in the SEC to date, as the duo has combined for 51 touchdown passes thus far in 2013. But Manziel is leading the SEC in interceptions and Mettenberger has five picks in his last three games (and should have had 3-4 more against Alabama). Look for big numbers and big mistakes from both in what should be an instant classic in Baton Rouge.
Missouri will win at Ole Miss… with Maty Mauk under center
James Franklin is an excellent player and fans in both the Big 12 (2011) and SEC (2013) have seen how good he can be when fully healthy. But we’ve also seen how tough it is for him to stay healthy. He missed three games at three different times in 2012 and has missed the last four games due to injuries. He has proven to be brittle and is expected to return to the starting lineup this weekend against Ole Miss. With the SEC East on the line for Gary Pinkel, he is turning back to his veteran for a big road win. And Pinkel will get the victory, however, it will be with Maty Mauk on the field. Mauk has eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in the last two games and will be needed to win the game when (not if) Franklin gets banged up.
All five winless teams will stay winless
Everyone likes to focus on the unbeatens, and rightly so, as they play for championships. But keep an eye on those winless teams too. Five programs have yet to win a game in 2013 — UConn, Southern Miss, Miami (Ohio), Hawaii and Georgia State. And none of them will get into the win column this weekend. Georgia State (+23.5), Southern Miss (+23) and Miami (Ohio) (+24.5) are more than three-touchdown underdogs. UConn is a nine-point underdog to a one-win Temple team and Hawaii is only a seven-point dog to a Wyoming team that just got beat by 41 points. Still, no reason to not expect all five to lose again this weekend.
Iowa, Penn State and Minnesota will have winning Big Ten records
Had I said Iowa, Penn State and Minnesota would all have winning league records with one week to play in the conference in the summer months, I would have been laughed at. Loudly. But Iowa and Penn State sit at 3-3 in the Big Ten currently and Minnesota is 4-2. The Hawkeyes are a six-point favorite against powerful Michigan at home while the Nittany Lions are a two-point favorite over Nebraska at home. Minnesota is a 16-point underdog to arch rival Wisconsin. Iowa and Penn State will win while the Gophers will lose and all three will sit at 4-3 in the Big Ten with one week to play.
Bonus Prediction: Northwestern will enter the season finale winless (0-7) in the Big Ten.
NC State will go 0-4 in-state in 2013
Dave Doeren has a tougher task in front of him than expected. His team is 0-7 in the ACC and hasn’t won a game since topping Central Michigan in September. During that span the Wolfpack has lost to Wake Forest, North Carolina and Duke within the state by a combined 41 points. NC State now has to face 8-2 East Carolina in Carter-Finley Stadium this weekend. The Pirates are heading towards a 10-win season if it can upset the Pack and has a history of playing very well against ACC teams. Take ECU to win and give Doeren an 0-for in the state in his first season.
Washington State will become bowl eligible
Sticking with the theme of things I never thought I’d hear this summer, the Cougars of Washington State will become bowl eligible this weekend. After upsetting both USC and Arizona on the road this year, Wazzu returns home against Utah with a chance to get to the postseason for the first time since 2003. A win also guarantees the Cougars' first .500 or better regular season mark for the first time since 2006 and gives Mike Leach’s squad an outside shot at its first winning record since ’03 as well.
Star power will not be lacking in college basketball this season. The star-studded freshman class and the return of Marcus Smart, Doug McDermott, Russ Smith and so on made that clear in the preseason.
The first two-plus weeks of the season only confirmed it.
Heck, even Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminksy scored 43 points Tuesday night. It was against North Dakota in a rare 100-point outburst for the Badgers, but Kaminsky is about the fifth-most well-known player on Wisconsin’s roster.
As we move into the 2013-14 basketball season, we’ll take a look all the good and bad in the weekly honor roll and dishonor roll. Here goes the first look around the season so far.
1. Michigan State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Ohio State
15. Iowa State
17. Wichita State
18. New Mexico
25. Arizona State
Shabazz Napier. The Connecticut guard is off to a torrid start, including a triple-double against Yale on Nov. 11. With six assists and seven rebound in every game this season, Napier might not have had his last triple-double of the season. The Huskies are 4-0 and continue an intriguing non-conference schedule with Boston College (Thursday), Florida (Dec. 2), Stanford (Dec. 18), at Washington (Dec. 22) and Harvard (Jan. 8). Napier’s 9.5 rebounds per game are great, but no other Huskies player has more than four per game. That could be a problem.
Jabari Parker. The Duke freshman proved he was as good as anticipated in the Champions Classic more than a week ago, but he’s finding new ways to impress. Parker has topped 21 points in all four games this season, including double-doubles in the last two. Against overmatched UNC Asheville, Parker finished 8 of 13 with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists — in only 19 minutes. He threw in six blocks Tuesday night against East Carolina.
The “other” freshmen. The Champions Classic was a chance for Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle to shine, unfortunately at the expense of other freshmen off to hot starts. Noah Vonleh has become the first freshman since Kansas State’s Michael Beasley to record double-doubles in four consecutive games. Aaron Gordon is doing just fine at Arizona, too, with 13.3 points and 9.5 rebounds.
The state of Iowa. Iowa State’s 77-70 win over Michigan was one of the basketball highlights of the week, indicating the Cyclones might be a factor in the Big 12 race rather than a bubble team. Melvin Ejim returned to score 22 points with nine rebounds, and transfer DeAndre Kane is doing the same things he did at Marshall by averaging 13.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists. Meanwhile, rival Iowa has played an easy schedule, but the Hawkeyes are demolishing opponents. The Hawkeyes have topped 100 points in back-to-back games and have shown impressive depth so far this season. Fran McCaffery’s team will be a fun one to watch in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Indiana State. Like Iowa State, Indiana State picked up a major upset over the weekend over an established team when the Sycamores upset Notre Dame 83-70. The only loss for Indiana State was 96-95 to Belmont, a loss that doesn’t look quite so bad after the Bruins defeated North Carolina on the road Sunday (In a schedule quirk, Indiana State will face Belmont again on Dec. 29 in Terre Haute). Let’s step back, though, and look what Greg Lansing has built at Indiana State. In the post-Creighton Missouri Valley, Indiana State may be the most logical challenger for Wichita State. The Sycamores have played in the postseason every season with Jake Odum on the roster, including an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011.
The ACC. The hits keep coming for the ACC, which was supposed to be the best conference in the country this season. The league is still going to be better than the SEC and a few other powers, but the depth hasn’t been there so far this season. Maryland’s one-point loss to Connecticut wasn’t embarrassing, but at home to Oregon State, a team that lost to Coppin State, is. Also over the weekend, Belmont defeated a suspension-depleted North Carolina team, adding to the Tar Heels' early struggles. Virginia, a fringe top 25 team, continued to have trouble in the non-conference, albeit against VCU. And Boston College, an NCAA Tournament dark horse, has a three-point win over FAU as the high point this season. Even Syracuse limped to a 56-50 win over St. Francis (N.Y.). The conference will be in recovery mode when the ACC-Big Ten Challenge rolls around.
Marquette. It’s really tough to overstate how bad Marquette was at home against Ohio State. Marquette was 10 of 53 from the field (18.9 percent), 1 of 18 from 3-point range), 20 turnovers, four assists. Ohio State had 10 steals and eight blocks. Marquette managed to lose a game in which its opponent was 3 of 18 from the free throw line and 5 of 15 from 3-point range. Buzz Williams is just on the cusp of elite coaches, and Marquette was the preseason favorite in the Big East. Davante Gardner was a non-factor in the paint, and new point guard Derrick Wilson looked lost. After Saturday’s struggles, Marquette looked nothing like a team ready to contend for a league title in any conference.
Michigan. We may need to promise not to overreact to the Wolverines’ 77-70 loss at Iowa State. After all, this was a road game against a probable NCAA Tournament team. Mitch McGary was limited in his first game back from a sore back, coming off the bench to contribute nine points and six rebounds in 22 minutes. But Caris LeVert fell back to Earth and point guard Derrick Walton had his freshman moments with three turnovers and two assists.
Memphis. Few teams would have been able to handle Marcus Smart on Tuesday night, and Gallagher-Iba Arena is one of the toughest venues to play when the place is rocking. The Tigers, though, flopped against Oklahoma State. Memphis entered the game a top 15 team and looked more the part of a Conference USA also-ran than a contender in the American Athletic Conference. The starting backcourt went 5 of 26 from the field and 0 for 7 from 3-point range. The lack of big wins for Josh Pastner is starting to add up. The Memphis coach is winless against ranked teams with too many of those games finishing with lopsided scores like the game against Oklahoma State.
Midweek MAC games in November are must-see television for starving college football fans.
However, midweek games can be tough on attendance, but that’s the trade-off for the added exposure on television.
The crowd for Tuesday night’s Miami (Ohio)-Buffalo game was incredibly small, which is no surprise considering how bad the RedHawks have been this year (0-11).
Here are a few crowd shots from last night’s game:
Saints (8-2) at Falcons (2-8)
Matt Ryan’s nickname, “Matty Ice,” is intended to be a reference to his cool under pressure. But lately, Atlanta’s quarterback has been ice cold, throwing eight INTs — including two pick-sixes — over the past four games, all losses. Saints by 11
Buccaneers (2-8) at Lions (6-4)
The best receiver on the planet (Calvin Johnson) goes toe-to-toe with the artist formerly known as the greatest cover corner (Darrelle Revis). Lions by 6
Vikings (2-8) at Packers (5-5)
Adrian Peterson limps into Lambeau Field on the heels of a 13-carry, 60-yard, one-TD effort in a 44–31 loss to the Packers in Week 8 this year. Packers by 2
Jaguars (1-9) at Texans (2-8)
This race to the bottom of the AFC South is also a race to the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Texans by 5
Chargers (4-6) at Chiefs (9-1)
Kansas City will need to avoid an AFC West hangover following an over-hyped first loss of the season against Denver on Sunday night. Chiefs by 7
Panthers (7-3) at Dolphins (5-5)
Cam Newton is taking his talents and Carolina’s six-game winning streak to South Beach. Panthers by 4
Bears (6-4) at Rams (4-6)
Jay Cutler (high ankle sprain) has already been ruled out. But Josh McCown (2–0 as a starter) has been as good or better than Cutler of late. Rams by 1
Jets (5-5) at Ravens (4-6)
The J-E-T-S are the first team to alternate wins and losses every week for the first 10 games of a season. Based on that alone, the Jets will win. Ravens by 4
Steelers (4-6) at Browns (4-6)
Big Ben has a 16–1 record against Cleveland. But the Browns did beat the Charlie Batch-led Steelers, 20–14, last season. Is Batch playing this week? Steelers by 2
Titans (4-6) at Raiders (4-6)
Ryan Fitzpatrick will take on Matt McGloin in a matchup of quarterbacks that fans in the Black Hole couldn’t pick out of a lineup. Titans by 1
Colts (7-3) at Cardinals (6-4)
Indianapolis is 4–1 on the road this season, with two blowout wins and a pair of FG margins. Cardinals by 1
Cowboys (5-5) at Giants (4-6)
Dallas came out of the gates with a 36–31 win over its NFC East rivals in Week 1 this season. Prior to that, however, the Boys had gone 1–3 over the past two years against the G-Men — with the victory coming without Tony Romo. Cowboys by 2
Broncos (9-1) at Patriots (7-3)
Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. It really will be “Football Night in America” on Sunday night. Broncos by 4
49ers (6-4) at Redskins (3-7)
Don’t believe the hype. Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III have combined for 28 total TDs and 25 turnovers. What happened, guys? 49ers by 7
Last week: 10–5 // Season: 102–60
Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback rivalry in NFL history. It’s as simple as that. There has never been a matchup of signal-callers as historically significant and charismatic as Manning and Brady.
Manning has a record four MVPs and a Super Bowl XLI MVP as well as a loss in Super Bowl XLIV. Brady has two MVPs, three Super Bowl wins (XXXIV, XXXVIII and XXXIX), two Super Bowl MVPs and a pair of Super Sunday losses on his shimmering resume.
But the status of the two goes well beyond the football field. The paths to the pinnacle have been fascinating for both Manning and Brady.
Manning is a blue blood born into NFL royalty who was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy at Tennessee, went No. 1 overall in the 1998 draft and was immediately inserted as the franchise quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.
Brady split time with two-sport star Drew Henson at Michigan, fell to the No. 199 overall pick of the 2000 draft and sat anonymously behind Drew Bledsoe before taking over under center for the New England Patriots.
Despite taking decidedly different routes, both Manning and Brady have risen to the top and remain the gold standard for quarterback play in the modern NFL. Part of that job description includes thriving in the spotlight on and off the field. Both men are extremely capable of that tough task, as well.
Manning dominates commercial breaks in ads for DirecTV and Papa John’s, while Brady and ubermodel wife Gisele Bundchen routinely own the gossip column, not to mention a serious percentage of print ads.
But the appeal of both stems from their play between the lines. And the consensus top two signal-callers of their respective generation will share the field — or at least grace the same blades of grass on alternating possessions — in prime time for what NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football television executives are billing as “Manning-Brady Bowl XIV,” when the 9–1 Denver Broncos visit the 7–3 New England Patriots.
Currently, Brady holds a 9–4 edge over Manning. But this season, Manning’s Broncos have been superior — at least statistically — to Brady’s Patriots. Denver has scored 51 touchdowns to New England’s 26. The Broncos’ average a league-leading 39.8 points per game compared to the Patriots’ respectable 25.4 points per game. Most impressive, Denver is carrying a plus-143 point differential while New England boasts a net plus-55.
Manning-Brady Bowl XIV should be another good one. But the 37-year-old Manning and 36-year-old Brady can’t go on like this forever. Enjoy the rivalry while it lasts.
Ranking all 32 NFL teams, from the Mile High and mighty Denver Broncos to the rock bottom Jacksonville Jaguars.
1. Broncos (9-1) Tiger Woods, Lindsey Vonn on sideline Sunday night.
2. Seahawks (10-1) Earn franchise-record 13th straight win at Seattle.
3. Chiefs (9-1) Lose battle of best in the AFC West against Denver.
4. Saints (8-2) Garrett Hartley hits game-winner as time expires.
5. Colts (7-3) Erik Walden suspended one game for head butt.
6. Panthers (7-3) Steve Smith tells Aqib Talib to “ice up, son” after win.
7. Patriots (7-3) No call? Tom Brady says he could throw better ball.
8. Bengals (7-4) Score franchise-record 31 second-quarter points.
9. 49ers (6-4) Ahmad Brooks penalty nullifies Drew Brees fumble.
10. Lions (6-4) Winless in Pittsburgh for 58 years and counting.
11. Bears (6-4) Outlast weather delay, overtime to beat Baltimore.
12. Eagles (6-5) Earn first win at Lincoln Financial Field in 413 days.
13. Cardinals (6-4) Carson Palmer throws zero INTs for first time in ’13.
14. Packers (5-5) Three-game losing streak team’s longest since ’08.
15. Cowboys (5-5) JPP says Giants will “put it on” Cowboys on Sunday.
16. Jets (5-5) Geno Smith pulled after three quarters, four turnovers.
17. Giants (4-6) Jason Pierre-Paul predicts his own pick-six in win.
18. Dolphins (5-5) Jim Turner the new face of Jonathan Martin case.
19. Steelers (4-6) Big Ben throws four TDs in win against Detroit.
20. Ravens (4-6) Unlike Super Bowl, lengthy delay ends in defeat.
21. Titans (4-6) Collapse vs. Colts follows meltdown vs. Jaguars.
22. Raiders (4-6) Matthew McGloin throws three TDs, wins debut.
23. Chargers (4-6) Commit 10 penalties in third consecutive defeat.
24. Rams (4-6) Use bye week to prep for banged-up visiting Bears.
25. Browns (4-6) Suffer most lopsided loss to Bengals since 2006.
26. Bills (4-7) EJ Manuel wins rookie QB rematch with Geno Smith.
27. Redskins (3-7) Back foot INT by RG3 ends late rally against Eagles.
28. Vikings (2-8) Percy Harvin return haunts old Vikings teammates.
29. Buccaneers (2-8) Bobby Rainey: From Browns backup to Bucs star.
30. Falcons (2-8) Have lost four consecutive by margin of 135–61.
31. Texans (2-8) Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub upset following loss.
32. Jaguars (1-9) Score first TD at home on Danny Noble’s first catch.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Controversial no-call ending aside, Newton shined bright under the lights on Monday night during a 24–20 win over the Patriots. The face of the Panthers franchise completed 19-of-28 passes for 209 yards, three TDs and zero INTs while scrambling seven times for a season-high 62 rushing yards. After a 1–3 start to the season, Carolina has reeled off six consecutive wins. During that stretch, Newton has accounted for 13 total TDs and three turnovers, compared to seven total TDs and six turnovers over the first four weeks of the season.
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew defense carried the G-Men to their fourth straight victory — after a miserable 0–6 start to the season — with a 27–13 win over the Packers. JPP sealed the deal with an acrobatic, leaping interception of Green Bay backup Scott Tolzien early in the fourth quarter. Pierre-Paul’s 24-yard pick-six gave the Giants a 14-point lead they would not relinquish. New York’s defense has given up just two offensive TDs while scoring two return TDs of its own during the current four-game winning streak.
Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers
Tampa Bay turned to a new workhorse during a 41–28 win over the Falcons. Rainey carried the load with 30 carries for 163 yards and two trips to the end zone on the ground to go along with a third TD through the air. The three-TD effort comes just one week after the 5'8", 212-pound running back out of Western Kentucky scored the first TD of his NFL career during a Monday night win over the Dolphins. The Bucs have now won two straight games after an ugly 0–8 start to the season.
Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals
Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald is usually the first in flight when it comes to the Cardinals’ passing game. But it was Floyd who dictated pecking order during a breakout performance in a 27–14 win at Jacksonville. The second-year pass-catcher out of Notre Dame hauled in six receptions for a career-high 193 yards — on a whopping 32.2 yards per catch — and one TD in victory. Through 10 games this season, Floyd has already exceeded his rookie-year yardage (657 to 562) and TD (3 to 2) totals.
Johnny Manziel vs. LSU is the top game this week despite more meaningful action around the country. A conference title is on the line in the Big 12 and divisions are up for grabs in the SEC East, Pac-12 South and Big Ten Legends. Braden Gall and David Fox talk Les Miles vs. Johnny Football while taking stock of Baylor-Oklahoma State, Arizona State-UCLA and more.
On this week’s podcast:
• Gall and Fox trade reactions on the wild catch at the end of the Auburn-Georgia game. One of the all-time great plays sets up a wild Iron Bowl, but that game is still a week away. We took a second to talk about Auburn anyway and if the Tigers have a chance to beat Alabama.
• How much should the off-field allegations concerns Jameis Winston impact Heisman voting? That answer is complicated.
• After USC’s win over Stanford and a 5-0 record under Ed Orgeron, how serious a candidate should Coach O be for the Trojans. Not very is the consensus.
• The most important game of the week for national championship implications is Baylor’s road trip to Oklahoma State. For all the storylines on offense, Fox is looking more at defensive plays.
• In talking about UCLA’s Myles Jack, Fox learns how to pronounce Paul Hornung before moving on to pick a winner in the Pac-12 South.
• Then moving on to the game with the greatest potential for chaos, Fox and Gall talk about LSU’s defensive dominance at home against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M.
• And finally in the rapid fire, a ranking of the coaches at smart people schools and picking the year’s disappointments.
The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.
Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Nov. 19.
• You've probably never heard of model Daria Werbowy, but it's her 30th birthday, and we like to show the birthday love here at Essential 11 Links.
• The Patriots-Panthers game ended in controversy, drawing an audible F-bomb from an understandably livid Tom Brady. But here's a suprisingly reasonable, level-headed assessment of the final no-call from a Patriots fan.
• You probably saw Drew Brees' neck get unnaturally stretched on a hit from Ahmad Brooks. Some genius made a hilarious GIF to commemorate the moment. Trust me, you need to see it.
• I hate things that are prefaced with "This is the cutest thing you'll see all day." But this five-year-old drum major is the cutest thing you'll see all day.
• Classic cheerleader photos from the '80s and '90s. Sweet fancy Moses, the hair.
• Interesting social experiment: A prankster freaks people out by regurgitating personal stuff that they themselves have posted on social media. People are dumb.
• Heisman watch, SEC edition. It's all on you, Johnny Football.
• Game-ending no-call aside, the signature play from last night was this sick scramble from Cam Newton.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
Texas Tech is set to close out its regular season schedule with a trip to Texas on Thanksgiving night. And the Red Raiders will break out an alternate uniform against the Longhorns, unveiling a “Lone Star” look for next Thursday’s game.
Here’s a look at Texas Tech’s uniforms for the Nov. 28 game:
See more photos of Texas Tech's Lone Star uniforms here.
Ohio State-Michigan is one of the top rivalry games in college football each season, and the Buckeyes plan to wear an alternate uniform for this year’s meeting.
Ohio State will wear all white uniforms, which are a tribute to the 1950 “snow bowl” game played between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.
Here are the Ohio State rivalry uniforms for next week’s game versus Michigan:
With the fantasy playoffs just around the corner, there’s not much time left for those teams looking to make a last-minute push. To that end, Athlon Sports has scoured the waiver wire to identify those potential free agent pickups that could potentially buy your squad more time, as you aim to keep those fantasy postseason hopes and championship dreams alive.
The players listed in Athlon’s weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players you may want to consider.
Teams on bye in Week 12: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle
Week 11 Recap: Ryan Fitzpatrick posted nearly 250 total yards of offense with no turnovers on Thursday night against Indianapolis, but he managed just one touchdown pass in the close loss to the Colts. The elements certainly were a factor in the Ravens-Bears game in stormy Chicago, as Josh McCown struggled with his accuracy (19 of 31) and finished with 216 yards passing. He did have a touchdown pass with no turnovers and helped lead his team to an overtime victory, bringing his record as the Bears’ starter to 2-0. McCown will get a shot at 3-0 this week with Jay Cutler (ankle) already ruled out against St. Louis.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
With a significant helping hand from Michael Floyd (see below), Palmer posted his best numbers of the season, throwing for 419 yards and two touchdowns in the win in Jacksonville. The yards were Palmer’s second-highest total in his career and, more importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over. Palmer has 17 or more fantasy points (Athlon scoring) in four of his past five games and has two appealing matchups on tap in Indianapolis and Philadelphia. After that, however, the sledding gets much tougher with an ending slate of St. Louis, Tennessee, Seattle and San Francisco. Think of Palmer as a short-term investment, especially if you need some QB help to get you into the playoffs.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
It wasn’t always pretty, but Big Ben (above) made the most of his opportunities against the Lions. In a game that didn’t lack for offensive fireworks, Roethlisberger out-dueled Matthew Stafford by throwing for 367 yards and four touchdowns. He also didn’t turn the ball over and now finds himself just on the outside of the top 10 in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks. He is by the far the least owned when it comes to the top scorers at his position, despite the fact Roethlisberger has gone over 34 fantasy points in two of his last three games. His schedule the rest of the way is very manageable with four games against teams that are ranked in the top 18 when it comes fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Big Ben is no stranger to postseason success having won two Super Bowl titles. Perhaps he can do the same for your fantasy team this season.
Week 11 Recap: Chris Ivory had a game-high 98 yards rushing in the Jets’ loss to the Bills on Sunday with 69 of those coming on one carry during garbage time in the fourth quarter. He also had a short touchdown run and appears pretty locked in as the Jets’ lead back for the rest of the season. Shane Vereen had just seven rushing yards on Monday night against Carolina, but he led the Patriots with 11 targets, eight receptions and 65 yards receiving. Vereen should be active enough in the Patriots' offense to maintain flex consideration, especially in PPR leagues. Rashard Mendenhall got a team-high 13 carries, but he managed just 14 yards against the Jaguars. He did post his second rushing touchdown in three games and as long as he gets more touches (16) than Andre Ellington (10), he will remain a factor.
Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
Was Sunday night a coming out party for the highly regarded rookie? Even though Knowshon Moreno dominated the carries (27 to 8), Ball scored two rushing touchdowns and caught three passes in the Broncos’ big win over the previously undefeated Chiefs. Ball’s not going to take the No. 1 job away from Moreno, not as long as he continues to have issues with ball security (fumble against the Chiefs) and in pass protection, but it’s clear the Broncos aren’t going to ignore him either. He has seen consistent work in each of the past three games and has three touchdowns during that span. It’s a bit of risk with Moreno getting the vast majority of the touches, but Ball could be setting the stage for a strong finish to his rookie season.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Brown is not a “new” name for this space, but it’s probably time to start viewing him, and not Trent Richardson, as the Colts’ primary back. Brown led the team in carries (14) against Tennessee on Thursday night, turning those into 80 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile Richardson had just 22 yards on eight carries. Richardson isn’t getting the job done, and considering Brown’s versatility (15 rec., 153 yds., TD), don’t be surprised to see him get more touches than T-Rich the rest of the way.
Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Following Mike James’ injury, the thinking was that Brian Leonard would get the majority of the carries. Instead, the coaching staff turned to the diminutive (5-8) Rainey, who gashed the Falcons for 163 yards on 30 carries. Rainey also had two rushing touchdowns and caught another, which is pretty impressive considering his size and the fact that he started the season with Cleveland. There is no guarantee that Rainey will come anywhere close to replicating this type of success, especially with some tough games remaining (Carolina, Arizona, San Francisco), but any back who gets more than 30 touches and produces more than 35 fantasy points deserves a little recognition.
Week 11 Recap: Jerricho Cotchery caught three passes for 48 yards and a touchdown against Detroit. It was his fifth touchdown catch in three games and it’s possible he could continue his hot streak if Emmanuel Sanders’ foot injury causes him to miss some time. Aaron Dobson had four catches for 38 yards in New England's Monday night loss to Carolina, as the Panthers' defense did a good job limiting the big plays. Percy Harvin made his season debut for the Seahawks, catching his lone target for 17 yards, but he also had a 58-yard kickoff return, displaying the explosiveness and big-play ability that makes him so appealing in fantasy. St. Louis rookie Tavon Austin has a similar skill set and is coming off of his best game (314 total yards, 3 TDs) as the Rams got an extra week to prepare for Sunday’s home date with Chicago.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
Similar to Harvin (see above), San Francisco’s offense could get a much-needed jolt with the return of Crabtree. The 49ers’ leading receiver last season, Crabtree tore his Achilles tendon in late March, but returned to practice last week and could be activated in time to play in the Monday night game against Washington. While it’s certainly risky to trust Crabtree to produce immediately, don’t forget that in the 10 games, including playoffs, that Colin Kaepernick started last season, Crabtree posted the following numbers: 61 receptions, 880 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
After injuring his shoulder last week, Floyd was actually questionable to even play against Jacksonville. Six catches, 193 yards and a touchdown later, the only question that remains is how good can Floyd be the rest of the season? Floyd was targeted a team-high 11 times and his touchdown came on a catch-and-run that covered 91 yards. Larry Fitzgerald (9 targets, 6 rec., 61 yds., TD vs. Jaguars) is the Cardinals’ top target, but if Carson Palmer (see above) can continue his recent strong play, there should be enough passes for both Fitz and Floyd to provide WR1/WR2-level production.
Marquise Goodwin, Buffalo Bills
A long jumper on the 2012 U.S. Olympics team, Goodwin also has plenty of speed to burn on the football field. He ran a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Combine, one of the reasons why the Bills took him in the third round of April’s draft. He and fellow rookie Robert Woods are considered the Bills’ future at wide receiver, but with Woods nursing a high ankle sprain and Stevie Johnson hobbled by a groin injury, Goodwin has made the most of his additional opportunities. He has 56 or more receiving yards in three of his past four games, including 81 on six catches in Sunday’s win over the Jets. He also has two touchdown catches in his last three outings, both of those covering more than 40 yards. The Bills are on bye this week, but Goodwin is certainly one to keep an eye on as the season winds down, especially if Woods’ or Johnson’s injury lingers.
Week 11 Recap: John Carlson led Minnesota in catches (five) and receiving yards (69) for the second straight game, further strengthening his case for more ownership as long as Kyle Rudolph is sidelined with a broken foot.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Walker’s role in the Titans’ passing game has seemed to evolve as this season has progressed. A member of San Francisco’s NFC championship team, Walker signed with Tennessee during the offseason and he has quietly put together respectable numbers, totaling 39 catches for 403 yards and five touchdowns. He may not be Jimmy Graham, but Walker has three touchdowns in his last four games and has averaged 12.6 fantasy points per outing during that span. He recorded a season-high 10 catches (on 10 targets) for 91 yards and a score against the Colts on Thursday night. Put it all together and he’s a borderline top-10 fantasy tight end who is barely owned in a fifth of all Yahoo! leagues.
Week 11 Recap: The New York Giants’ DST maintained its stretch of hot play with three interceptions, including one by Jason Pierre-Paul returned for a touchdown, and only 13 points allowed in a win over Green Bay. This Sunday the G-Men host Dallas and still have two games with Washington on the schedule.
New Orleans Saints
It has been quite the turnaround for the Saints’ defense. From setting the all-time record for most yards allowed (7.042) last season to ranking fourth in the NFL in the same category entering Week 12, first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has done an impressive job. The Saints have been especially stingy against the pass (191.4 ypg) and are near the top of the rankings in sacks (32). Next up is an Atlanta (2-8) team that is in shambles and one that New Orleans fared pretty well against back in Week 1. The Saints sacked Matt Ryan three times, forced two turnovers and held them to just 17 points in their season-opening victory, and that was with Julio Jones in the lineup. Jones is on injured reserve, a bunch of other key Falcon players are banged up, and this is basically a team that’s ready to pack it in and focus on turning things around next season. With Seattle, Cincinnati and Buffalo all on bye, there are worse fill-in DST options than New Orleans.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
Perhaps the most telling number for Week 13 in the Big 12 is the two teams that aren’t involved in the most important game in the league this year.
Baylor at Oklahoma State is the biggest game in the Big 12 this season (so far), meaning Oklahoma and Texas are nowhere to be found.
The Cowboys have been on the national scene for some time now, but this will be the first time in nearly 60 years Baylor has played in a game involving two top 10 teams.
Surely, that game will give us plenty of fodder for next week’s key numbers in the league thanks to the up-and-down offenses for both teams. The numbers in Week 12, though, still told interesting stories from Baylor and Oklahoma State’s big wins, to Kansas first Big 12 win in a long time and Oklahoma’s record-tying win for its coach.
More Stats from Week 12: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC
Key Numbers from the Big 12 from Week 12
0.0013. BCS average separating Ohio State and Baylor
The margin between No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Baylor in Sunday’s BCS standings is razor-thin. The Buckeyes have the edge in the coaches’ and Harris polls to give Ohio State a 0.8869 BCS average. Baylor moved up in the computer component this week, giving the Bears a 0.8856 BCS average. Here’s a primer on how the two stack up in the BCS components, plus other rankings:
1:45. Average time for a Baylor scoring drive this season
1:58. Average time for an Oklahoma State scoring drive this season
In other words, expect an up-and-down game for Baylor and Oklahoma State this week.
1956. The last time Baylor played in a game involving two top-10 teams
This week’s matchup between No. 3 Baylor and No. 10 Oklahoma State will be the first time Baylor has played in a game involving Associated Press top-10 teams since Oct. 3, 1956. That day, No. 8 Baylor lost 19-13 to No. 7 Texas A&M, a team coached by Bear Bryant.
14. Players responsible for Oklahoma State’s 18-game takeaway streak
The Cowboys have had a takeaway in each of the last 18 games for one of the longest such streaks in the nation. One of the most interesting parts of the streak is the 14 players who have combined for the 39 forced turnovers. Leading the way is cornerback Justin Gilbert, who had three interceptions Saturday against Texas. Gilbert’s six interceptions is the most takeaways for any Oklahoma State player during the 18-game stretch.
0. Plays of 30 yards for Oklahoma State against Texas
Oklahoma State’s longest two plays from scrimmage against Texas both went for 29 yards, yet the Cowboys still won 38-13. The only other team this season to keep Oklahoma State from breaking a 30-yard play this season was Lamar. Go figure.
26. Average scoring deficit for Kansas during the 27-game Big 12 losing streak
Perhaps the most surprising of Kansas’ 31-19 win over West Virginia on Saturday was the relative ease of the victory that ended the Jayhawks’ 27-game Big 12 losing streak. Kansas’ last three Big 12 wins — spanning five years — were by a touchdown or less. Since defeating Colorado 52-45 on Nov. 6, 2010, Kansas had been outscored by an average of 26 points per game in Big 12 play.
5. Big 12 coaches to lose to Kansas since 2008
The last Big 12 coach to lose to Kansas was fired three days later. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will at least beat that mark set by Colorado’s Dan Hawkins in 2008. Still, the list of Big 12 coaches who have lost to Kansas since 2008 is not a good one. Only Holgorsen and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel remain employed. Hawkins and Iowa State coach Gene Chizik did it twice, and Kansas State’s Ron Prince did it once. Chizik went on to coach a national championship team at Auburn in 2010 but was fired before last season.
6-13. West Virginia’s record since Oct. 6, 2012
On Oct. 7, 2012, West Virginia was 5-0 and fifth in the Associated Press poll. Seems like an eternity ago, right? After three consecutive wins over Maryland, Baylor and Texas then, quarterback Geno Smith was the Heisman frontrunner. West Virginia’s fall since has been staggering with a 6-13 record and 4-11 in the Big 12. With an embarrassing 31-19 loss to Kansas, West Virginia has lost to every Big 12 team except Iowa State at least once. The Mountaineers face the Cyclones on Nov. 30.
2. Bowl streaks spanning at least eight years ended in the Big 12 last week
With West Virginia and TCU both losing their seventh game of the season, two of the top 12 longest bowl streaks in the nation were ended on the same day. Entering the season, only seven programs had a longer bowl streak than West Virginia's 11 consecutive years in the postseason. TCU had been in a bowl game every year since 2005. The longest bowl streak in the Big 12 belongs to Oklahoma (since 1999), now followed by Oklahoma State (since 2006).
4. Big 12 teams that will be led by their all-time wins leader
Bob Stoops won his 157th game at Oklahoma on Saturday, tying Barry Switzer for the most victories in school history. By the end of the season, four Big 12 teams will be led by their school’s all-time wins leader with Stoops joining Kansas State’s Bill Snyder (176), TCU’s Gary Patterson (120) and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy (76).
318. Difference in rushing yards for Oklahoma from Week 11 to 12
The Sooners went from one of the worst rushing performances of the Bob Stoops era against Baylor last week (87 yards, 2.56 yards per carry) to the best against Iowa State (405 yards, 9.2 yards per carry). The Sooners’ running performance against the Cyclones was the best for OU since rushing for 411 in 1997 against Louisville. Three Oklahoma players — running backs Damian Williams and Brennan Clay and quarterback Trevor Knight — topped 12 yards per carry.
With 12 weeks in the books, college football’s bowl and national title picture is starting to come into focus.
Alabama and Florida State are headed for an intriguing national championship in Pasadena - provided both teams finish the season without a loss. The Crimson Tide still has to play Auburn, while the Seminoles’ toughest game is a desperate Florida team in the Swamp or the ACC Championship.
With Stanford’s loss to USC, Oregon jumps back to projected Pac-12 champion. The Ducks are projected to play Ohio State, while Wisconsin earns a second spot for the Big Ten in our BCS picks.
Washington State’s upset win over Arizona means the Cougars are just one win away from bowl eligibility. If Mike Leach’s team can knock off Utah this week, Washington State should find a home as an at-large selection. The Pac-12 will likely have more teams bowl eligible than available spots. However, with an opening in the Poinsettia and potentially the Hawaii Bowl, the Pac-12 should be able to find spots for its bowl-eligible teams.
The bowl season doesn’t start until December, but with less than one month to go in the season, it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like.
The post-Week 12 bowl projections are a mixture between projections for the next few weeks, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first 12 weeks of action. Expect more changes over the next few weeks. With several teams projected to be right around the six-win mark, more at-large spots in bowls should open in the next month.
A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including Syracuse and Utah from BCS conferences. And Texas State, Arkansas State, Ohio, FAU, ULM and Troy from the non-BCS ranks.
College Football's Post-Week 12 Bowl Projections for 2013
|New Mexico||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Colo. State vs. Oregon State|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Dec. 21||MAC vs. MWC||UNLV vs. Bowling Green|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Boise State vs. USC|
|New Orleans||Dec. 21||Sun Belt vs. CUSA||UL Lafayette vs. Tulane|
|Beef 'O' Brady's||Dec. 23||American vs. CUSA||Toledo* vs. MTSU|
|Hawaii||Dec. 24||MWC vs. CUSA||SJSU vs. Rice|
|Little Caesars Pizza||Dec. 26||MAC vs. Big Ten||No. Illinois vs. Maryland*|
|Poinsettia||Dec. 26||Army vs. MWC||Utah State vs. Buffalo*|
|Military||Dec. 27||CUSA vs. ACC||E. Carolina vs. Boston College|
|Texas||Dec. 27||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||K-State vs. Iowa|
|Fight Hunger||Dec. 27||BYU vs. Pac-12||BYU vs. Washington|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 28||American vs. Big 12||Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame|
|Belk||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Houston vs. North Carolina|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Louisville vs. Miami|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Dec. 28||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||Texas vs. Michigan|
|Armed Forces||Dec. 30||MWC vs. Navy||Navy vs. SDSU|
|Music City||Dec. 30||ACC vs. SEC||Georgia vs. Pittsburgh|
|Alamo||Dec. 30||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Oklahoma vs. Stanford|
|Holiday||Dec. 30||Pac-12 vs. Big 12||Arizona State vs. Texas Tech|
|AdvoCare V100||Dec. 31||ACC vs. SEC||Georgia Tech vs. Arizona*|
|Sun||Dec. 31||Pac-12 vs. ACC||UCLA vs. Virginia Tech|
|Liberty||Dec. 31||SEC vs. CUSA||Tennessee vs. Marshall|
|Chick-fil-A||Dec. 31||SEC vs. ACC||South Carolina vs. Duke|
|Gator||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Ole Miss vs. Minnesota|
|Heart of Dallas||Jan. 1||Big Ten vs. CUSA||North Texas vs. Washington State*|
|Outback||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Missouri vs. Nebraska|
|Capital One||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Michigan State vs. Texas A&M|
|Rose||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Ohio State vs. Oregon|
|Fiesta||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Fresno State vs. Baylor|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||BCS vs. BCS||Auburn vs. UCF|
|Cotton||Jan. 3||SEC vs. Big 12||LSU vs. Oklahoma State|
|Orange||Jan. 3||BCS vs. BCS||Clemson vs. Wisconsin|
|BBVA Compass||Jan. 4||SEC vs. American||Vanderbilt vs. Rutgers|
|GoDaddy||Jan. 5||MAC vs. Sun Belt||Ball State vs. Western Kentucky|
|National Title||Jan. 6||BCS vs. BCS||Alabama vs. Florida State|
* Indicates conference is not expected to fill its alloted bowl slots, leaving an at-large spot available.
Bold indicates team has accepted bid to bowl.
Related College Football Content
ACC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Big 12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Big Ten Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Pac-12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
SEC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Stats to Know from Week 12
With three weeks left in the 2013 season, college football’s coaching carousel is set to begin. There were no coaching changes over the last week, but with the end of the year coming for a few teams, expect to see more movement over the next three weekends.
Texas’ Mack Brown and Nebraska’s Bo Pelini have moved up and down the hot seat watch this season, and both are back in the top 10 after losses in Week 12. The Longhorns were easily handled by Oklahoma State, while the Cornhuskers committed five turnovers in a loss to Michigan State.
Virginia’s Mike London, Hawaii’s Norm Chow and Illinois’ Tim Beckman take the top three spots in this week’s coach on the hot seat watch. However, all three are likely to return in 2014. London has two of the nation’s top recruits headed to Virginia, and athletic director Craig Littlepage continues to give the embattled coach a vote of confidence. The Fighting Illini has made a little progress this year, but Beckman cannot afford a loss to Purdue in Week 13.
Each week, we will take a look at the hot seat/pressure on a program for all 125 coaches. Some new coaches will rank high due to poor performances but aren't in any danger of losing their job.
And another important note when reading our coach on the hot seat rankings: Outside of the top-10 coaches, it’s all about the pressure on a program. While some coaches – like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Indiana’s Kevin Wilson and Maryland’s Randy Edsall – aren’t in any danger of being fired. However, both coaches need to continue to show the program is headed in the right direction.
Ranking All 125 CFB Coaches on Hot Seat/Pressure on Program to Win in 2013
|1||Mike London||2-8||All signs point to London returning for 2014.|
|2||Norm Chow||0-10||Hawaii's worst season since 1998 (0-12).|
|3||Tim Beckman||3-7||Beckman under pressure but should return for 2014.|
|5||Dave Christensen||4-6||Cowboys have lost four in a row.|
|6||Dana Holgorsen||4-7||Will miss out on bowl for the first time since 2001.|
|7||Bo Pelini||7-3||Is Pelini coaching for his job in the last two games?|
|9||Garrick McGee||2-8||Blazers have lost 119-28 in last two games.|
|10||Mack Brown||7-3||Longhorns likely out of the Big 12 title picture.|
|11||Bobby Hauck||5-5||Rebels have two winnable games remaining.|
|12||Kevin Wilson||4-6||Hoosiers need to find some answers on defense.|
|14||Will Muschamp||4-6||Will need upset over FSU to make bowl.|
|15||Charlie Weis||3-7||Win over WVU snapped 27-game Big 12 losing streak.|
|17||Dan Enos||4-6||Weak November schedule should get CMU to 6-6.|
|19||Dan Mullen||4-6||Bulldogs battled against Alabama.|
|20||Randy Edsall||6-4||Win over Va. Tech should get Terps in bowl.|
|21||June Jones||4-6||QB Garrett Gilbert quietly having good season.|
|22||Kyle Flood||5-4||Lost 3 out of last 4; Recruiting class falling apart.|
|26||Paul Petrino||1-9||Vandals play at Florida State this week.|
|31||Jim Grobe||4-6||Demon Deacons can play spoiler against Duke.|
|34||Bob Davie||3-7||Lobos could be without RB Kasey Carrier rest of year.|
|35||Dave Doeren||3-7||Wolfpack has one more chance to avoid winless ACC record.|
|37||Tony Levine||7-3||Levine having a solid second season in Houston.|
|43||Ron Caragher||5-5||Spartans need to beat Navy or Fresno to make bowl.|
|47||Steve Sarkisian||6-4||Huskies headed for another 7-6 season?|
|50||Rocky Long||6-4||Aztecs have won six out of last seven games.|
|53||Matt Rhule||1-9||Back-to-back three-point losses for Temple.|
|54||Terry Bowden||4-7||Zips have won more games in 2013 than 2010-12.|
|57||Mike Leach||5-5||Cougars picked up impressive road win over Arizona.|
|59||Frank Solich||6-4||Bobcats outscored 79-3 in last two games.|
|60||Larry Fedora||5-5||Future looks bright for Tar Heels.|
|62||Jim McElwain||6-5||Rams have won four out of last five games.|
|68||Bryan Harsin||6-4||ASU is bowl eligible for third year in a row.|
|78||Dabo Swinney||9-1||Tigers in good shape to play in BCS bowl.|
|100||James Franklin||6-4||Commodores bowl eligible for third year in a row.|
|101||Mark Dantonio||9-1||Spartans in driver's seat for Legends Division title.|
Related College Football Content
ACC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Big 12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Big Ten Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Pac-12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
SEC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Stats to Know from Week 12
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Big Ten to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 12:
11-25: Ohio State’s opposing Big Ten record
The Buckeyes scored 60 points against Illinois on the road and has topped at least 56 points in three straight games. Ohio State is 6-0 in Big Ten play but has only played one team with a Big Ten winning record (Wisconsin). In fact, the conference schedule the Buckeyes have played is against six teams with a combined 10-26 record. Three of those wins — Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois — are a combined 0-18 in the Big Ten this year. Overall, Wisconsin (8-2) and Buffalo (7-3) have the best two overall records on Ohio State’s schedule thus far. Indiana and Michigan, the two remaining Big Ten opponents for OSU, are a combined 5-6 in the Big Ten and 11-9 overall.
Oct. 26, 2008: The last time Minnesota was ranked in the BCS
The BCS Standings came out Sunday evening as usual and 8-2 Minnesota found itself ranked No. 25. It was the first time the Gophers have been in the BCS Standings since Oct. 26, 2008 when Tim Brewster led Minnesota to a 7-1 start to the season. Goldie then proceeded to lose five straight to end the season, including the Insight Bowl against Kansas. With Wisconsin and Michigan State left on the schedule, Minny fans should enjoy this week while they can.
554: Wisconsin's rushing yards against Indiana
Michigan State and Ohio State are on a collision course in the Big Ten Championship Game, but few teams in the nation are playing as well as Wisconsin. The Badgers rushed for 554 yards — 10 shy of the school record and the most by any FBS team in 2013 — against Indiana in a 51-3 romp in Camp Randall. It marked the third time this season Gary Andersen had three backs go over 100 yards rushing in the same game. James White (205 yards, TD), Melvin Gordon (146 yards, TD) and Corey Clement (108 yards, 2 TDs) led the way, while star wide receiver Jared Abbrederis was just 14 yards shy of joining them (three carries, 86 yards, 2 TD). Even more impressively, the Badgers held the Hoosiers' offense to 224 yards and three points. Indiana, who came into the weekend averaging 527.1 yards of offense and 43.1 points per game, had not scored fewer than 13 points in any half this year. Wisconsin shut out Indiana in the first half and allowed just a field goal in the second.
32.3: Michigan State's points per game in Big Ten play
Mark Dantonio’s team have been consistently knocked for being lackluster and boring on offense. His 2013 teams is actually averaging 32.3 points per game in Big Ten play. It is the highest total for a Dantonio team since leading the Big Ten in scoring in conference games since 2007 (34.8 ppg). That was his first year coaching in East Lansing, making his 2013 team his second-best Big Ten offense during his seven-year tenure. This turnaround comes after Michigan State posted Dantonio lows of 19.9 points per game against Big Ten teams and 20.0 overall last season.
81: Allen Robinson's single-season school receptions record
Last week, Robinson topped Bobby Engram as the all-time Penn State single-season receiving yard record holder. This week, he broke his own single-season Penn State receptions record with eight catches for 98 yards in the win over Purdue. He now has 81 receptions and 1,204 yards on the season and will only continue to push those numbers higher with two games left to play. Robinson might be the greatest wide receiver to ever play in Happy Valley.
5.3: Points per game Northwestern has lost by over the last four
Northwestern has lost six straight games — all six of which came in the Big Ten. But the last four have been particularly painful. Defensive touchdowns gave them a three-point loss to the Gophers at home. Iowa scored on third down in overtime. Of course, there was the historic Hail Mary loss to Nebraska. And this week, Michigan kicked a controversial field goal with a second left on the clock to send the game into overtime. Three OTs later, Michigan won by eight. Poor Pat Fitzgerald has lost five games in a row by a combined 21 points — or 5.3 per game.
246: Carlos Hyde's third-most rushing yards in Ohio State history
Ohio State scored 60 points but the road win against Illinois was tougher than expected. Hyde was the star of the day for the Buckeyes. He rushed 24 times for 246 yards and four touchdowns, including two fourth-quarter scoring runs of more than 50 yards (51, 55). He also caught two passes for 26 yards and a fifth touchdown through the air. His 246 yards rushing tied Archie Griffin for the third-highest single-game rushing total in school history behind only Eddie George (314) and Keith Byars (274).
15.5: Ryan Shazier's Big Ten-leading tackles for a loss
Hyde wasn’t the only Buckeyes star to post a huge stat line in the win over Illinois. Shazier, a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year candidate, was simply unstoppable in Week 12. The junior posted 16.0 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and registered a safety against the Fighting Illini. He now has 15.5 tackles for a loss on the season, as he is leading the Big Ten in plays made behind the line of scrimmage.
Fresno State and Northern Illinois are a combined 19-0 heading into Week 13. The Bulldogs rank No. 15 in the latest release of the BCS standings, while the Huskies check in at No. 16.
With both programs in the top 16 of the BCS standings, the opportunity is there for a bid to one of college football’s premier bowl games.
Northern Illinois played Florida State in the Orange Bowl last year and lost 31-10. Fresno State has never played in a BCS bowl.
Both teams will be favored in their remaining games, but the path isn’t completely clear. Northern Illinois has to play at Toledo, and assuming the Huskies win the division, will play Buffalo or Bowling Green in the MAC title game. Fresno State plays at San Jose State in the regular-season finale, followed by a potential rematch against Boise State in the Mountain West title game.
Fresno State and Northern Illinois: Does either team deserve a spot in a BCS bowl?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Tough to say. For the most part, Northern Illinois and Fresno State have dominated within their conferences. The Huskies handled a solid Ball State team 48-27 last week and defeated Eastern Michigan and UMass by a combined score of 122-39. The Bulldogs had to withstand a late rally to beat Hawaii, but Tim DeRuyter’s team has only two other conference games decided by a touchdown or less. What’s lacking on both resumes is a marquee non-conference win. Yes, Northern Illinois beat Iowa and Fresno State beat Rutgers, but both of those BCS teams are hovering around .500. Looking at the BCS standings, Arizona State, Wisconsin, LSU and Louisville are all ranked behind Fresno State and Northern Illinois. I think all four of those teams are better than the Bulldogs or Huskies, but that’s not what the BCS is designed to take into account. With the limitations on how many teams per conference, and Louisville and UCF – the frontrunners to win the American Athletic title – behind both teams, Northern Illinois and Fresno State have done all that has been asked of them to make a BCS game. I don’t think either team is one of the top 10-15 in the nation. But in this setup, if Northern Illinois and Fresno State win out, one will be in a BCS bowl.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
The answer I suppose is supposed to be no. Whether Fresno State or Northern Illinois reaches the BCS, that team will be one of the worst non-major conference teams to play in the BCS, joining 2012 Northern Illinois and 2007 Hawaii. Neither Fresno State nor Northern Illinois are nearly as good as the Boise State, TCU or Utah teams that reached the BCS in years past. Still, I’ve always been a proponent of seeing non-AQs in major bowl games. We’re supposed to believe a bowl game is a reward, and an undefeated season deserve a reward even if it occurs in the MAC or Mountain West. I know many people yawn at non-traditional powers in the BCS, but I like seeing an undefeated non-AQ team get its shot against one of the big boys — even if some of them in routs.
As two of the remaining undefeated teams left standing in college football, the Bulldogs and Huskies are both having impressive seasons. Each has a legitimate shot of running the table, including a win in their respective conference championship games. From a resume standpoint, neither Fresno State nor Northern Illinois has really beaten anyone of significance this season. The Bulldogs have a non-conference win over Rutgers, who is just 5-4 and fighting for bowl eligibility, and have already beaten Boise State once. The Bulldogs could play the Broncos again for the Mountain West Conference title, but even two victories over Boise doesn't look as impressive as it would in years past. The Huskies have run roughshod over their Mid-American Conference competition to this point, but their other wins have come against Iowa and Purdue, who are a combined 7-13 overall and 3-9 in the Big Ten, and 1-9 Idaho.
However, this may not matter, as long as either the Bulldogs or Huskies ends up running the table and finishes in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings or in the top 16 and ahead of a conference champion from one of the automatic qualifying (AQ) conferences — AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC. The former is very unlikely to happen, but don't count out the latter as UCF is in the driver's seat to win the AAC. The Knights currently sit 18th in the BCS Standings and are behind both Fresno State (15th) and Northern Illinois (16th). So does either team "deserve" a spot in a BCS bowl? Honestly, no, but because of the BCS system and the numerous twists and turns that have already shaped this season, the path for either the Bulldogs or Huskies to get one of the 10 highly covered, not to mention profitable, BCS bowl spots is clearly laid out. It also appears to be realistic goal for Fresno State or Northern Illinois to attain, and in the end that's all that matters to either "mid-major" program.
USC knocked off Stanford 20-17 on Saturday, improving to 5-1 under interim coach Ed Orgeron.
The Trojans’ only loss under Orgeron’s watch was a 14-10 defeat at Notre Dame.
It’s clear USC is playing with a renewed sense of energy and optimism under Orgeron, which has only complicated athletic director Pat Haden’s decision.
Orgeron replaced Lane Kiffin after USC’s 62-41 defeat against Arizona State, and USC has responded well to the coaching change.
Haden has the necessary resources to pay big for USC’s next coach, and there will be plenty of candidates interested in moving to the West Coast.
But considering Orgeron’s success this year, should he get more consideration for the full-time spot?
Should USC Hire Ed Orgeron as its Next Head Coach?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
No, I don’t think Orgeron should be hired as USC’s next head coach. Anytime an interim coach takes over, it seems most teams get an extra boost in terms of energy and emotion, but that’s tough to capture the next season. That’s exactly what USC is going through now. This level of performance is what is expected out of the Trojans each year, as despite the NCAA sanctions, there’s no shortage of talent on the roster. Orgeron deserves credit for what he’s done this year, and there’s no question he’s learned a thing or two from his time at Ole Miss. However, USC can pay big and will have plenty of interested candidates at the end of the year. Maybe Orgeron can stay on staff and help bridge the transition. The next head coach at USC should be someone that’s currently coaching elsewhere - and should be someone other than Jack Del Rio.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is the only interim coach from a fired head coach I can remember that has had any success after he was promoted. I can safely say this: There aren’t many like Dabo. Perhaps in many ways Orgeron is like Dabo. He’s clearly an emotional leader, and his recruiting track record precedes him. But USC should fight the emotions of the moment and look beyond Coach O. Orgeron was one of the worst hires in recent SEC history. Even counting his 5-0 record in the Pac-12 as USC’s coach, Orgeron still has an 8-21 record in conference games in his career. The Trojans must aim higher. That said, if I’m an athletic director at a Conference USA, Mountain West or Sun Belt school, I’m reconsidering Orgeron as a head coach. That, in itself, is an amazing statement. In September, the ceiling for Orgeron seemed to be recruiting ace and defensive assistant. He should be a head coach again if he wants to be. Just not at USC.
Orgeron's doing what Lane Kiffin couldn't — get the most out of this scholarship-strapped team — and suddenly finds himself with an outside shot at a Pac-12 South title. That's quite remarkable considering where this program was back in late September when Kiffin was fired following a 62-41 loss to Arizona State. Fast forward to the present and USC is 8-3 after a last-minute upset of then-No. 4 Stanford, something that no doubt thrilled the home crowd at the Coliseum. I've always been a believer in that you shouldn't fire someone if you don't have the next guy lined up and who knows, maybe athletic director Pat Haden had this succession plan in mind after all? Orgeron has been a head coach before (10-25 at Ole Miss from 2005-07) and as Kiffin's recruiting coordinator at both Tennessee and USC, he's largely responsible for the players he's now leading. With USC still dealing with NCAA-mandated scholarship reductions, maximizing the talent on the roster is critical as it relates to the Trojans' success moving forward. Orgeron has done just that since becoming the interim head coach. Why not drop the "interim" tag and see what he can do with a little more security? Besides, who else would be perfect for coaching in Los Angeles than a guy who has already proven his acting chops? After all it was Orgeron, not Nick Saban, who got more screen time in "The Bilnd Side." That's got to count for something, right?
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the SEC to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 12.
SEC Stats to Know from Week 12
16: Turnovers forced by Vanderbilt in its last four games, more than 55 teams have for the entire season.
The Commodores are 3–1 during this stretch thanks in large part to a plus-11 turnover margin. In the last two games, wins over Florida and Kentucky, Vanderbilt has not committed a turnover on offense while forcing eight (seven interceptions and one fumble recovery) on defense. For the season, Vanderbilt ranks second in the league to Missouri in both turnovers forced (23) and turnover margin (plus-9).
2: Interceptions thrown by AJ McCarron in Alabama’s 20–7 win over Mississippi State.
It was only the third time in McCarron’s three seasons as a starter that he has thrown more than one interception. He threw two in his first start, against Kent State in 2011, and two in last season’s loss at home to Texas A&M.
19: Punt return yards by Mississippi State this season, the fewest in the nation.
The Bulldogs also rank last in college football with only 1.3 yards per return. For comparison’s sake, Kansas State leads the nation with a 17.9-yard average.
284.9: Yards per game rushing by Auburn in SEC games this season, an increase of nearly 200 yards per game from last season.
A year ago, en route to an 0–8 record in the league, the Tigers averaged only 86.8 rushing yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry against conference opponents.
17: Consecutive SEC games in which Kentucky has failed to score more than 24 points.
The Wildcats last scored more than 24 points on Nov. 5, 2011, in a 30–13 win over Ole Miss in Lexington. This season, the Cats are averaging 14.5 points in six league games.
55: Offensive snaps for Florida in Saturday’s 19–14 loss at South Carolina, the fewest by a UF team since the Gator Bowl at the end of the 2011 season.
With third-string quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg getting the start, Florida leaned heavily on the running game and did its best to slow the tempo of the game. The Gators had 307 yards on their 55 plays, and South Carolina had 377 yards on 63 snaps.
1: Number of touchdowns South Carolina scored against Florida, its fewest in a win since also scoring one TD in a 16–10 victory over Ole Miss on Sept. 24, 2009.
On Saturday night, the Gamecocks’ only touchdown came on a 32-yard strike from Connor Shaw to Bruce Ellington. Placekicker Elliott Fry nailed four field goals.
31.5: Georgia’s scoring average in its four losses this season, the most by any team in the nation with at least four defeats.
The Bulldogs scored 35 against Clemson, 26 against Missouri, 27 against Vanderbilt and 38 against Auburn.
751: Yards gained by Ole Miss on Saturday against Troy, a school record.
The Rebels rushed for 382 yards (on a 6.3-yard average) and passed for 369 en route to the 51–21 win. Quarterback Bo Wallace led the way with 272 yards passing and three touchdowns.
1: Number of seniors among the top 15 rushers in the SEC this season.
Tennessee’s Rajion Neal, ranked sixth in the league with 89.5 yards per game, is the only senior on the list. There is one freshman (Arkansas’ Alex Collins), nine sophomores and four juniors.
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the ACC to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 12.
ACC Stats to Know from Week 12
1990: The last time NC State finished with less than 10 touchdown passes in a season
With two games left this year, NC State has thrown for just eight touchdown passes. Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas have combined for just five of those scores, with receiver Rashard Smith tying Mitchell with one this year. The Wolfpack threw for at least 31 touchdown passes in three out of the last four seasons and have not had a season of fewer than 10 since 1990. With games against East Carolina and Maryland remaining, NC State should get to 10 before the final snap. However, the drop-off in production at quarterback is largely why NC State will miss out on a bowl game for the first time in three years.
7.1: Yards per carry by Duke running back Josh Snead – second in school history
An underrated cog in Duke’s turnaround this season has been the rushing attack and its offensive line. The Blue Devils have five players with at least 41 carries, including quarterbacks Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette. Jela Duncan and Josh Snead are the team’s top running backs, combining for 965 yards on 159 attempts. Snead has been the team’s home-run threat, averaging 7.1 yards per carry on 68 attempts. The junior ranks second in school history with a 7.1 average, with Ace Parker (1935) owning the school record at 7.4. If Snead continues to perform as he did against Miami (138 yards), he could finish 2013 with the school record in yards per carry.
257: Total yardage by Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown against Virginia Tech
The Terrapins did not put on an offensive clinic against the Hokies, as the offense managed just 319 yards on 65 plays. With a receiving corps short on options due to injuries, Maryland put the game in the hands of quarterback C.J. Brown. The senior responded by recording 257 of the Terrapins’ 319 yards. Brown’s 122 rushing yards tied his season high, while his touchdown pass against the Hokies was his first since Sept. 21 against West Virginia.
2.4: Pittsburgh’s yards per carry in its last seven games
The Panthers’ offensive line was a huge question mark coming into 2013, and this unit has struggled through the first 10 games. The Panthers have allowed 37 sacks, which ranks as the most in the ACC. Pass protection isn’t the only issue for this unit, as Pittsburgh is averaging 2.4 yards per carry in its last seven games. The Panthers rushed for only 46 yards against North Carolina and were held to -5 against Georgia Tech. Only once in ACC play this year has Pittsburgh rushed for more than 100 yards (Duke). In order for the Panthers to get bowl eligible, the offensive line and rushing attack has to perform better in the final two games.
2001: The last time North Carolina had a five-game winning streak
The Tar Heels earned their fourth consecutive victory of 2013, defeating Pittsburgh 34-27 in Week 12. The win over the Panthers moved North Carolina one step closer to bowl eligibility and improved Larry Fedora’s team to 4-3 in ACC play. The Tar Heels have won four games in a row for the second time under Fedora, and with a victory over Old Dominion this Saturday, would have their first five-game winning streak since 2001.
40: Points allowed by Miami in three consecutive losses
Miami’s three-game losing streak has likely ended any hopes the Hurricanes had of winning the Coastal Division. But that’s not all of the bad news coming out of Coral Gables for coach Al Golden. For the first time in school history, Miami has allowed at least 40 points in three consecutive games. The Hurricanes rank 11th in the ACC against the run, ninth against the pass and 10th in the conference in yards allowed. Coordinator Mark D’Onofrio has coached with Golden since 2004, so there’s little reason to expect a coaching change this offseason. However, if this unit doesn’t improve in 2014, Golden may be forced to change coordinators.
12-1: Wake Forest’s record against Duke in its last 13 games
Duke’s path to a Coastal Division championship still has two difficult hurdles to clear. The Blue Devils play rival North Carolina in the season finale, while a trip to Winston-Salem to play Wake Forest awaits this Saturday. Duke hasn’t had much luck in Winston-Salem recently, losing six out of its last seven trips. However, the Blue Devils won 34-27 at Wake Forest last year. A win over the Demon Deacons would move Duke one step closer to bowl eligibility, while also giving David Cutcliffe’s team a chance to win 10 games for the first time in school history.
14-10: Virginia Tech’s record over the last two years
While 14-10 represents a winning record, it’s a clear drop-off for a program that recorded at least 10 wins for eight consecutive years (2004-11). Under Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech has not recorded back-to-back seasons of fewer than eight wins since 1991-92. The Hokies are just 8-7 in ACC play over the last two years and a loss to Virginia on Nov. 30 would equal the program’s losses in conference play from 2004-08.
24: Points needed by Florida State to break single-season record by an ACC team
Florida State’s offense is on a record-setting pace this year and needs only 24 points to set an ACC record for most points scored in a season. The Seminoles set the conference mark last year, recording 550 in 14 games. But this year’s offense is on pace to shatter that mark in 2013. Florida State should easily record 24 points against Idaho this Saturday and may have 600 overall points by the bowl game.
272.7: Amount of yards Andre Williams needs to average in final three games to break NCAA single-season record
It’s probably unrealistic to expect Boston College running back Andre Williams to average 272.7 yards per game over his final three contests. But after rushing for 339 yards against NC State, anything is possible for this senior back. Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders set the single-season rushing record with 2,628 yards in 1988, and UCF’s Kevin Smith, TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson, Tulane’s Matt Forte, Penn State’s Larry Johnson, Connecticut’s Donald Brown, California’s J.J. Arrington and Rutgers’ Ray Rice are the only players since 2000 to top 2,000 yards. Williams plays Maryland and Syracuse to close out ACC play, and both teams rank near the bottom of the conference against the run. The senior will also have a bowl game to chase Sanders’ record. It’s unlikely, but Williams is on a roll and should easily top 2,000 yards.
1982: The last time Virginia won two games
Can Virginia avoid its first season of double-digit losses since 1981 this year? The Cavaliers close 2013 with a road trip to Miami, followed by a home matchup against rival Virginia Tech. Virginia desperately needs something good to happen in the final two games to build momentum for the offseason, and coach Mike London continues to get a vote of confidence from his athletic director. While London is expected to return in 2014, 2013 is shaping up to be one of Virginia’s worst seasons in recent memory. The Cavaliers are likely to finish 2-10, which is the program’s worst record since 1982. And Virginia has not lost 10 games since 1981.
117: Yards Syracuse had before its final two possessions against Florida State
Just how dominant was Florida State’s defense against Syracuse? The Orange had only one drive over 20 yards until the fourth quarter, and four of their first-half possessions resulted in a three-and-out. Once the Seminoles began to substitute on defense, Syracuse was able to move the ball more in the fourth quarter. The Orange recorded 130 yards on 31 plays on their final two drives, which was more than the 117 yards the team had through its first 11 drives.
1: Wins needed by Clemson to record three consecutive double-digit win seasons
Clemson is off to a 9-1 start and should earn victory No. 10 with a matchup against Citadel this Saturday. Even with quarterback Tajh Boyd likely less than full strength due to a collarbone injury suffered against Georgia Tech, the Tigers should have little trouble improving to 10-1. With a win over Citadel, Clemson will earn its third consecutive season of double-digit victories. That’s only the second time in program history the Tigers have accomplished this feat, as Danny Ford led Clemson to 10 wins in each season from 1987-89.
13.2: Yards per touch by Georgia Tech running back Robert Godhigh
Georgia Tech’s offense has been inconsistent at times this season, but senior Robert Godhigh has been one of the team’s most-explosive players. Godhigh is averaging 13.2 yards per touch and has seven touchdowns this year. According to Georgia Tech’s game notes, 55 percent of Godhigh’s touches have resulted in a first down or touchdown. And consider this: Godhigh is a former walk-on.
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 12.
Pac-12 Stats to Know from Week 12
.9: Stanford’s holds USC rushing offense to .9 yards per carry
USC scored a 20-17 upset win over Stanford on the heels of a rushing offense that was shut down by the Cardinal defense to the tune of 23 yards on 27 carries for a 0.9 average. USC entered the game ranked 68th in the nation in rushing at 171.1 yards per game. The Trojans’ offense did their damage early with three scoring drives in the first half before being limited to zero or negative yards on 10 of their first 15 second-half plays.
9: USC beats Stanford a ninth straight time the game after facing Cal
USC has followed up its game with Cal by playing Stanford the following week on 19 occasions. And on the last nine occasions, the Trojans have defeated their oldest rival. Saturday’s win ended Stanford’s four-game winning streak in the series — its longest such streak in the series dating back to 1905. USC had not played the Cardinal the game after Cal since 2008.
9 part II: Washington State has had 10-plus receivers catch a pass in nine games this season
In its 24-17 win at Arizona Saturday, 11 Washington State receivers caught a pass. It marked the eighth straight game 10-plus receivers have caught a pass for the Cougars, and nine games this season altogether. Nine of the 11 receivers Saturday caught at least two passes. Dom Williams led the way with seven catches for 75 yards.
.97: Mariota now atop NCAA career list in interception percentage
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota became the NCAA’s career leader in interception percentage at 0.97 percent (600 or more attempts) in Saturday’s win over Utah. He also extended his Pac-12 record to 353 pass attempts without an interception.
10: Oregon’s seventh-ranked rushing offense limited to 10 first-half yards
The Utah defense limited the Oregon run game to 10 first-half yards before surrendering 135 in the second half. The 145 total yards on the ground is less than half of what the Ducks averaged entering Saturday’s win — 301.6 yards per game for seventh in the NCAA.
13: Cal now has longest losing streak within the Pac-12
Thirteen is the new 14 as Cal’s loss to Colorado gives the Bears the distinction of longest losing streak inside the Pac-12. Colorado stopped its 14-game skid within the conference with a 41-24 victory Saturday. Cal has now lost 13 straight Pac-12 games, 15 straight to FBS teams and has allowed 40-plus points in eight games this season.
419: Yards gained in scoring drives alone for Colorado
A long Pac-12 conference losing streak was stopped with some long drives for Colorado Saturday. The Buffs scored on six of their 14 drives, totaling 419 of their 485 yards on the scoring drives alone. They scored on drives of 71, 87, 75 and 49 in the first half, and added 70- and 67-yard scoring possessions in the second half. Cal gained 411 yards altogether.
2: Washington on the losing end for the second time this season after outgaining an opponent
Washington has topped its opponent in total offensive yards in eight of its 10 games this season. The two times the Huskies were outgained they lost, and UCLA made it two times this season an opponent defeated Washington despite being outgained. The Bruins won 41-31 on the scoreboard, and lost 432-406 in total yards. Stanford’s Oct. 5, 31-28 win after being outgained 489-279 was the other defeat. Oregon (631-376) and Arizona State (585-212) are the only two to outgain the Huskies this year, both resulting in UW losses.
4: Arizona defense posts second straight four-sack game
The Wildcat defense followed up last week’s season-high, four-sack game against UCLA with another four-sack effort to Washington State — both home losses. That makes for 12 sacks for Arizona in the last five games after posting six in the first five games.
100: Cooks becomes fifth Pac-12 player to reach 100 catches in a season
Brandin Cooks ended Oregon State’s 30-17 loss to Arizona State with nine catches for 99 yards and now has 100 on the season. He is just the fifth Pac-12 player to reach the century mark in a season. He became OSU’s single-season reception leader on his fourth catch of the game, surpassing Markus Wheaton (2012) and James Rodgers’ (2009) 91 catches.
Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.
Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.
With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from Week 11 of the NFL season:
1: Undrafted rookie QBs to throw 3 TDs and 0 INTs in a single game
The Oakland Raiders had to start quarterback Matt McGloin, a rookie undrafted free agent from Penn State, against Houston on the road this weekend. McGloin, who completed just 57.4 percent of his passes in college, threw for 197 yards and three touchdowns, along with no turnovers, while leading his team to a 28-23 victory over the Texans. He became the first undrafted rookie quarterback in the common draft era (1967) to throw for at least three touchdowns and no interceptions in a game. It extended Houston’s franchise-record losing streak to eight. And, oh by the way, it was McGloin’s first career start and his performance has some talking about a quarterback controversy in Oakland.
0: Sacks or knockdowns of Peyton Manning by Kansas City
The Chiefs came into Week 11 leading the NFL in sacks (36.0) and Denver had allowed eight quarterback sacks in its last three games — wins over Washington and San Diego and a loss to Indianapolis. But on Sunday night in primetime with the AFC West hanging in the balance, the maligned Broncos' offensive line played flawless football. Peyton Manning wasn’t sacked and didn’t even touch the ground in the 27-17 win over previously unbeaten Kansas City. Manning finished with 323 yards passing and a touchdown in the key divisional win, which puts Denver back in control of AFC home-field advantage — with a road trip to Kansas City looming in two weeks.
209: London Fletcher's NFL-record consecutive starts by a linebacker
The Redskins fell to 3-7 with a crushing divisional loss to Philadelphia this Sunday. However, veteran linebacker London Fletcher made history. The Ironman tackler started his 209th consecutive game to pass Derrick Brooks for the all-time NFL record for a linebacker. It also was Fletcher’s 250th consecutive game played, trailing only Jeff Feagles (352), Brett Favre (299) and Jim Marshall (282) among the longest consecutive games played streaks in NFL history.
113: Minutes Baltimore and Chicago were delayed due to weather
In a critical game for both teams fighting for the playoffs, the Ravens' trip to Chicago was delayed for nearly two full hours due to severe weather in the middle of the first quarter. An estimated 70 tornadoes touched down in the Midwest Sunday afternoon and it made for a long and muddy afternoon at Soldier Field. Not only was the game delayed 113 minutes but Baltimore kicked a field goal with three seconds to go to send the contest into overtime. With 8:41 left in the extra period, Robbie Gould nailed a 38-yard field goal to give Chicago the win in a game that took five hours and 16 minutes to complete. Baltimore falls into last place in the AFC North while Chicago is now tied for the lead in the NFC North.
31: Second-quarter points for the Bengals
Cincinnati fell behind divisional rival Cleveland 13-0 at the end of the first quarter on Sunday. But two Andy Dalton touchdown passes, a blocked punt touchdown, fumble recovery touchdown and 41-yard Mike Nugent field goal gave the Bengals a 31-13 halftime lead. The 31-point second quarter was the most points scored in any quarter in the franchise’s history. The win keeps the Bengals unbeaten at home (5-0) and, coupled with the Browns' and Ravens' losses, gives them a 2.5-game lead in the AFC North.
16,005: Matthew Stafford's Lions franchise-record passing yards
Stafford threw for 362 yards in the painful road loss to the Steelers on Sunday. He’s third in the NFL this year behind only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees with 3,198 yards after topping at least 4,900 yards in each of the last two seasons. He passed Bobby Layne (15,710) to become the Detroit Lions' all-time career leader with 16,005 yards passing. It took Stafford just 55 games to top Layne, who needed 97 games to set the original benchmark. More importantly, with a chance to take full control of the NFC North, the Lions lost 37-27 to a Steelers team that had won just three times all year.
22-38: Last year's division champs record in 2013 (minus New England and Denver)
Of the eight division winners in 2012, only two — New England and Denver — are leading their division in 2013 and only three (along with San Francisco) are currently slotted into the playoffs. Houston and Atlanta are both 2-8 after going a combined 25-7 last year. The defending Super Bowl and AFC North champion Ravens are 4-6. Washington won the NFC East with a 10-6 record but is 3-7 this year. Green Bay went 11-5 and won the NFC North but is 5-5 and missing Aaron Rodgers. The Texans (8), Falcons (4), Packers (3), Redskins (2), 49ers (2) and Ravens (1) have lost a combined 20 games in a row. The eight division winners in 2012 combined to go 92-35-1 and those same eight teams are 38-42 this year — but 16 of those wins come from the Patriots (7-3) and Broncos (9-1).
413: Days since the Eagles last won at home
The Eagles had lost 10 consecutive home games in Lincoln Financial Field dating back to a 19-17 win over the Giants on Sept. 30, 2012. The Eagles were 3-1 at that time before proceeding to lose 11 of their last 12 games and making a coaching switch to Chip Kelly. It was also the last time Philadelphia had a winning record. After topping the Redskins 24-17 at home this weekend, both of those streaks have been snapped. Phily is above .500 and has a win in front of the home fans for the first time in 413 days. More importantly, the Eagles are alone atop the NFC East standings with huge games against NFC playoff hopefuls Arizona, Detroit, Chicago and Dallas over the final month — three of which will come at home.
7,923: Marques Colston's Saints franchise-record receiving yards
Maybe fantasy players undervalue Marques Colston but Saints fans and opposing coaches certainly do not. Colston is already the Saints' all-time leading receiver with 571 receptions and 60 touchdowns. But after five receptions for 80 yards in the critical come-from-behind 23-20 win over the 49ers, Colston has more receiving yards than any player in Saints history. He passed Eric Martin (7,854) with 7,923 yards career receiving yards — which also puts him in the top 100 in NFL history (91st).
When I think of Jimmie Johnson and Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup championship performance, I’m reminded of a simple analogy Rick Hendrick brought up after the race.
“I like to use the Parcells quote,” the winning car owner said. “You are what your record says you are.”
So many critics have assailed Johnson through the years as the lynchpin to the sport’s dying popularity. He’s too politically correct. He drives the best equipment. Crew chief Chad Knaus, not the driver, is the reason for dynasty-like success. The men he’s chasing – Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, with seven titles apiece – would wipe the floor with Johnson in equal race cars. It’s as if some schmuck off the street could get selected, man the No. 48 and be sitting in the same spot. Donovan McNabb’s off-the-cuff remarks echoed Friday about race drivers not being athletes only feeds into that line of thinking.
It’s all categorically unfair to Johnson, on-track, to being the most decorated Cup champion in history. On paper, he already has six titles at age 38. His 66 victories place him eighth all-time; that includes each of the sport’s four crown jewels (Charlotte, Darlington, Daytona, Indianapolis) more than once. No one ever, outside of Petty or maybe David Pearson, has been so accomplished in this sport under age 40.
Unlike the Petty, Pearson and Earnhardt, Johnson does it while putting in an A-plus fitness regimen. A runner, Johnson wants to tackle the Boston Marathon next year. He’s also succeeded with a rotating pit crew, overcoming growing pains as many longtime members of the program have moved onward in recent years. He’s a new breed that’s made the most of his “upper class” circumstances at Hendrick Motorsports; even the New York Yankees, with the highest payroll in Major League baseball, still have to win those games. So why is Johnson chastised for doing his job better than anyone else?
“He doesn't wave the flag a lot,” added Hendrick. “He does so many things for charity, “Make a Wish.” They raise money, build houses, do things. He doesn't try to do things to gain attention or say, ‘Look at me.’ He's more about letting his actions speak for himself.”
That’s a far cry from what this sport was built on, with men like Earnhardt, whose actions were designed to rile the fan base (and attract new ones). But that shouldn’t take away from all Johnson has accomplished … and all he will accomplish. Being a marketer’s nightmare or generating bad ratings doesn’t leave you outside the Hall of Fame.
It’s time to respect Mr. Johnson, regardless of what you think of him personally for the way in which he’s reset the record book. We’re watching one of the greatest drivers of all time at his best. There should be more excitement surrounding that and records he’ll set that will take decades to break.
A final “Through the Gears” we go …
FIRST GEAR: Championship drama? Yawn.
As expected, Johnson and Co. remained in position to take the title from the start of the Ford EcoBoost 400 in Homestead, Fla. Besides some overplayed contact with Matt Kenseth on a restart with 74 laps to go, the race was run as smooth as could be. That’s what happens when you need just a 23rd-place run, right? Kenseth, for his part, led the most laps and posted a runner-up finish but knew, in the end, his effort would be in vain.
“I told them that I didn’t really care,” he said in terms of Johnson’s running position. “Didn’t really need to know unless he was in the garage and something happened to him and then we were just going to make sure we didn’t run into the wall. Other than that, we were just going to run the race, call the race and try to win.”
Kevin Harvick, who ran 10th, settled for a distant third in points although just being in position to grab the title mathematically was good enough for him. Johnson sealed this deal in Phoenix, and everybody knew it; Sunday was like a coronation.
SECOND GEAR: Denny gets it together just in time To say 2013 was a nightmare for Denny Hamlin would be putting it lightly. An early tete-a-tete with Joey Logano led to a hard Fontana crash and a back injury that still lingers. Out a month, he returned behind the curve, still in obvious pain and struggled to adapt to NASCAR’s new Gen-6 chassis. For much of the summer, internal strife was the rumor and crew chief Darian Grubb was on the “hot seat” to return in 2014.
But come Chase time, this team silently put it together with four top-10 finishes in the final six races of the season. That included Sunday’s win, where Hamlin capitalized during a track position shuffle that left teammate Kenseth mired in traffic. Touting new therapy techniques, which have helped his back immensely, the run kept alive a streak of eight straight seasons where the veteran has reached Cup Victory Lane.
“It just gives us huge momentum,” said Hamlin of the team’s surprising performance. “We started kicking things into gear about two months ago and then, to come here to Miami and back it up with a win — this is something we can think about for the entire winter.”
Hamlin still has a long way to go in order to be considered a 2014 title contender. Offseason surgery is still very much a possibility. But this victory, done in front of some major FedEx executives, did a lot to ease long-term concerns at the No. 11.
THIRD GEAR: Solid endings from drivers to watchFor Dale Earnhardt Jr., a title or a win was not in the cards this year. But a strong run at Homestead, where he collected yet another top-5 result, gives hope for better days in 2014.
“Ever since I started working with (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) and that whole team I hadn't wanted the years to end,” he said after running third. “We seem to get better as the season goes. You would just love to go to another race next week.”
Ending the year fifth in points, his best since suiting up with Hendrick, you’ve got to think the No. 88 is on track for a breakthrough trip to Victory Lane in 2014. Further back, reigning champ Brad Keselowski ran a strong sixth and has the right attitude after righting a disastrous year in the Chase.
“A champion is forever,” he said after falling to 14th, the best of the non-Chasers in 2013. “It might not be reigning, but you’re still a champion forever. I’m proud of that. I’m looking forward to the opportunities in the future to become a two-time champion. It didn’t happen this year, but there’s a long road in front of us.”
Kudos, too, to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who was 22nd at Homestead but earned Rookie of the Year honors over girlfriend Danica Patrick. Significant improvement late in the season leaves him as a guy to watch in 2014.
FOURTH GEAR: The end of an era
Dave Blaney. Jeff Burton. Mark Martin. Ken Schrader. Between them, they have over 60 victories and 2,500 starts on the Cup level. Add in Bobby Labonte, who finished up his 2013 season at Phoenix and those numbers creep far higher.
What do all of them have in common? Come 2014, they’ll be retired — or running the series on just a part-time basis. For a man like Martin, at age 54, the move had been expected since February. I knew the second he asked for his own copy of the results after running third in this year’s Daytona 500. After several aborted “retirement tours,” it was time.
Same for Labonte, Blaney and Schrader. Burton? You wonder whether, at age 46, he has another year or two left in him. A likely part-time ride at Michael Waltrip Racing allows us to find out, but it’s also a sign of how fragile these top-tier rides are these days. Jeff Gordon is sitting here at age 42. Tony Stewart is the same, coming off a major leg injury. How many more years before they’re pushed to the side … or come to their own realization that it’s time to step aside.
Right now, that sounds totally ridiculous. But reality could be sooner than you think. Hendrick reportedly met with NAPA this week to try and ink a deal with Chase Elliott, Gordon’s likely replacement. He’s only two years away from being Cup ready. And how about guys like Greg Biffle? At 45, he enters into the last year of his contract with Roush Fenway Racing and 3M in 2014. Think he’s got an automatic extension? Look what happened to good buddy Kenseth …
No matter what, best wishes to these men who helped define NASCAR’s peak era in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Thy all will be greatly missed.
OVERDRIVEJust what was Paul Menard doing bringing a car on fire into the pits? The YouTube-like explosion that followed, after his right rear Goodyear overheated and exploded, could have left several people seriously hurt. … Kyle Larson ran a quiet 15th for Phoenix Racing, his best run to date on the Cup level. Look for bigger and better from the rookie come 2014. … Homestead put on phenomenal Truck and Nationwide Series shows this weekend. So why was Sprint Cup so tame? It’s another indictment against the Gen-6 chassis, which seems headed for major revisions in the offseason.
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson has been ruled out for the remainder of 2013 with a concussion. Wilson suffered the concussion against Arizona State and did not play in the loss at Oregon.
Wilson’s career is also in jeopardy, as neurological testing revealed a pre-existing condition. More will be known about Wilson’s status in the future, but the Utah signal-caller will be out for the rest of the year, forcing backup Adam Schulz into the starting lineup.
Wilson finishes 2013 with 1,827 yards and 16 touchdowns, while he rushed for three scores in a 51-48 loss against Oregon State this year.
Mid-November is historically a part of golf's Silly Season, but the adjusted PGA Tour schedule and the global nature of the game have combined to add significance to the sport's holiday schedule. This weekend saw the climax of the European PGA Tour's Race to Dubai and a coronation of the world's hottest player; the final event on the PGA Tour's calendar for 2013; and the Australian Masters, which lured the current holder of the American Green Jacket to his homeland for a shot at a Masters two-fer.
Here's a weekend recap in numerical form:
2 Two Tours, two season crowns for Henrik Stenson, who became the first golfer to win the PGA Tour's FedExCup and European Tour's Race to Dubai in the same season. Stenson's final-round 64 gave him a six-shot win in the season-ending World Tour Championship Sunday in the United Arab Emirates, clinching the Race to Dubai title. "It is still taking a little time to sink in what I've achieved this week as was the case when I won the FedExCup but then it just kept getting better and better as the days went on and I am sure this will be the same," Stenson said after posting six birdies and an eagle. "I have managed to do something very, very special here this week by winning both in America and the Race to Dubai."
7 Since the Scottish Open in July, Henrik Stenson has been on a run that rivals Tiger Woods at his peak. In the 12 worldwide tournaments over that span, Stenson has finished in the top 3 in seven of them, including three wins — the Deutsche Bank and Tour Championship to clinch the FedExCup, and the World Tour Championship to clinch the Race to Dubai.
0 Despite Stenson's staggering turnaround this season — he finished 111th in FedExCup points in 2012 before winning the big prize in 2013 — he will possess exactly zero PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year awards to show for it. That's because the Tour did away with the award after the 2010 season, replacing it with the Courage Award. "The waters got a little muddled when (Steve) Stricker won it in back-to-back years (2006-07),” said Paul Goydos, a member of the policy board. “We had to define what this award would be. We went more along the lines of courage and overcoming something that was difficult."
$21.9 million Stenson's combined earnings on the PGA and European Tours for the 2013 season check in at about $21.8 million — the $10 million bonus for the FedExCup, $6.4 million in season earnings on the PGA Tour, and $5.5 million in European earnings.
2 Adam Scott won in his Australian homeland for the second consecutive weekend, successfully defending his Australian Masters crown the week after winning the Australian PGA. Scott fended off Matt Kuchar and a strong field at Royal Melbourne despite faltering on the back nine and losing a five-shot lead. Scott will shoot for the Australian Triple Crown in two weeks at the Australian Open in Sydney.
29 Harris English played 29 holes on Sunday at the rain-delayed OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, pulling away for a four-shot win, his second career PGA Tour victory.